FPR and I have spent a lovely few hours with family this afternoon. They had their Christmas celebration yesterday so on Christmas Eve it was Boxing Day! A bit of a mixed-up time, eh? Not only that, but I have had a generous early Christmas present.
My friend, Fibro, decided to give me a present consisting of multiple symptoms that I don’t usually have a problem with. I must say, at this point, that none of the individual symptoms has been unbearably awful. However, the arrival of lots of them at once has been a bit anti-social. It has felt overwhelming, at times. I have been feeling pain in places that don’t usually give me any trouble and it has also been making itself at home in the places where it is a familiar face. It has been particularly bad in the thoracic region of my back and up across my neck, shoulders and arms. Fatigue has been playing up for a while but, the last few days it has ramped up the action or, should I say, the lack of action. An example of this is that I have only been able to work a few short rows of knitting, before having to rest – particularly irritating as I am trying to complete a Christmas gift!
Sleep has been less restorative than usual. Up until now, sleeping has revived me, but that doesn’t seem to be working, at the moment.
The Fibro Feet have been working hard causing discomfort, as have the Fibro Fingers. Add to that particular mix, the Restless Legs and you have a lively dance to watch.
With the symptoms I have mentioned, and others, has come a general feeling of unwellness. Bossymamma has not been a happy bunny!
As Anne with an ‘e’ says: “Fibromyalgia: the gift that keeps on giving”.
When I was a child I loved the film musical “South Pacific”. Actually, I still quite like it, and, also, Calamity Jane:
“Oh, the Deadwood stage is a-coming on over the hill, deedle-e-di-di diddle-iddly di dee. Twenty three miiii-iiiiillllllessss we’ve covered today, Oh! Whip crackaway, whip crackaway, whip crackaway”.
I liked the songs in South Pacific, as well – most of them, anyway. Having said that, I really didn’t like the corny accent of the male singer of Some Enchanted Evening. Although Rossano Brazzi played the character in the film version, the actual singing was apparently done by Giorgio Tozzi! No matter. Whichever one it was put on a strange accent.
What has all this to do with Fibromyalgia, I hear you ask. Oh, can’t you see the link between the two? Cue a perfect segue… No, can’t think of a perfect one so I’ll just continue with what I was planning to talk about in this post and hope that I remember to make it clear at the end.
I’m pretty sure that every Fibro sufferer (or Fibro warrior, if you prefer) experiences their Fibro differently from everybody else. There is such a range of symptoms, causes and degrees that that must be the case, mustn’t it? I find that some of my symptoms can be triggered by specific things, others seem to appear from nowhere and, yet more, decide to form their own habit. This post is about a symptom that has carved out its own special niche – not that it only uses that niche! Oh no, it still jumps out of the woodwork when it fancies making even more of a nuisance of itself. It’s a very naughty symptom and I would smack its bottom, if I could.
Most evenings, after dinner, I sit relaxing in front of the one-eyed monster, playing with some knitting or sewing. I have noticed that this symptom is very sociable and certainly not very happy when it can’t be near me so, each evening during my relaxathon, out it pops – full of the joys of spring and ready to wreak havoc. (Did I tell you it’s very naughty? I’m sure you can see what I mean!)
So, who is this pesky individual? None other than… The one, the only… Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together to welcome, with its exclusive one-symptom show… The world famous… The symptom everyone is talking about… The master, or mistress, of your destiny… the irritating discomfort of…
Fibro Feet! (*tumultuous cheers and applause echo around the auditorium.)
Yes, just as I am settling down for the evening, the Fibro Feet start Going For Gold. Their knives have been honed to perfection and they have smashed the technique. In fact, Fibro Feet can do their job with their eyes shut. (I have a theory that they remove their eyes and send them on a scouting mission to find another unsuspecting victim as their aim is so accurate!) The feelings I experience include: like walking shards of glass, having someone stabbing them with a narrow blade, soreness, burning and painful itchiness. I haven’t noticed any particular routine regarding the sensations, it’s just the habit of coming to visit when I am sitting in the evenings. It doesn’t happen every evening but it happens more often than not and it does make appearances during the day, rather than being only nocturnal. It’s a very versatile opponent. It’s a shame it’s so effective.
Some Enchanted Evening(s), it doesn’t take centre stage.
Wasn’t The Fast Show great? (That’s where I borrowed this title from.) My family and I all loved it. Anyway, I digress.
This week I have been mainly suffering from…
Don’t know what Fibro Feet is or are? Allow me to enlighten you, well, at least as to what Fibro Feet means for me.
It begins with a warm feeling in my feet which increases in intensity until my feet feel as though they are burning inside. The transition can be slow or fast. Surprisingly, if you were to touch my feet (which, by the way, is a very bad idea as I am so ticklish!), they wouldn’t feel any warmer than most people’s. Odd, huh? The next stage is the barely discernible transformation of the burning sensation into a feeling that, mainly the soles of both feet, are being stabbed repeatedly by red hot knives. That can last for five minutes or five hours – there’s just no way of predicting how long it will be. It makes walking painful and unpleasant: try imagining that when each step lands it feels as though the sole of your foot is being pierced all over by red hot, rusty nails.
Fibro Feet doesn’t always make me feel as though my feet are red hot, though. At other times there is little or no feeling of increasing heat in them. What I experience is the sensation of walking on shards of glass, lots of shards of glass, which are cutting my feet to shreds. This sensation is even worse that the hot knives one because, unlike the first one I explained, this one feels just as awful when I am sitting with my feet up, as it does when I am trying to walk. I have to admit that I try to avoid walking when my feet are feeling this way as it hurts so much.
There doesn’t appear to be any way of predicting when Fibro Feet will saunter into my day, nor how long it will hang around, but there’s no mistaking when it’s here.
While I was lying in bed awake this morning, the subject of pain came into my mind – not really surprising as I had been in the process of turning over, which is a painful process. I started thinking about the pain that I feel, the different places it manifests itself and how varied it is in character and ‘feel’.
I thought I would insert an image here to show the trigger points associated with Fibro: enter problem number 1. Everyone with Fibro experiences it differently and, although there are several known trigger points, not everyone has them. None of the images I found showed all of the places where I experience pain. (I’m not saying that the images don’t exist, just that I couldn’t find what I was looking for.)
These are my feet. Fat. Puffy. Ugly. Feet.
In the very early days of my diagnosis I didn’t have any particular fibro-related problems with my feet. I had had hot, swollen feet for many years so, for a while, it was difficult to tell the difference between my pre- and post- diagnosis discomfort. However, that is no longer the case.
Some time ago, I began to feel pains in both feet which I could only explain to people felt as though I was walking on shards of glass, even if I was sitting down – a feeling that was definitely different to anything I had felt pre-diagnosis. Gradually that sensation changed to more of a stabbing pain – feeling as though someone was continually piercing me with a knife in both feet. Sometimes the pain in my feet is so bad that it makes walking nigh on impossible: the pressure involved in actually placing the sole of my foot on a hard surface becomes pretty hard to bear. I try to have my feet elevated when I sit, to ease the discomfort, but when it is particularly bad, it really only eases when I am lying in bed, relaxed.
Oh, this is a fun one! Where do I start? Well… The pain comes in several different ways in various areas of, in particular, my left arm. Sometimes the pain begins in the tips of the fingers of my left hand, goes all the way up through the left arm to my shoulder, all around the thoracic region of my trunk, across my neck, through my right shoulder and all the way down to the tips of the fingers of my right hand. Luckily, that doesn’t happen too often. More usually, the pain is concentrated in my left arm and shoulder, appearing also in my right arm and shoulder if I am feeling particularly tired.
Most of the time, I have pain in my upper left arm and shoulder which feels similar to a pulled muscle. When it becomes more severe, I have difficulty lifting, or even moving, my left arm. When the pain appears in the lower left arm, it has the feel of pain that emanates from a muscle, but seems to be in the wrong place. Those pains are unpleasant, but the worst is when I feel pain on the outside of both upper arms which feels as though I am being squeezed and squashed between two thick metal discs on long rods. I think the reason why this sensation is so horrid is because it feels as though I am being restrained and it leads to me feeling slightly claustrophobic. It also feels weird.
My upper left arm is also sometimes painful when I shower. Occasionally, feeling water splashing on my skin causes pain but, more usually, it seems to be a reaction to the sensation of the shower puff rubbing across the skin. Much as I like using a shower puff, I have invested in a couple of soft baby sponges, which appear to be alleviating the problem.
I touched on this in the previous section. As well as the pain that creeps across from my left arm, pain also develops independently in my neck. It creates a tired feeling in my neck which, in turn, makes my head seem so heavy that it’s as though my neck is unlikely to be able to bear its weight. I think this leads to fatigue taking hold, although it may be that the fatigue is what causes the phenomenon.
Back and Chest
I’ve put these together because, often, pain appears in both simultaneously. This happens, particularly, when I am reaching the point of overdoing things. The location of the pain in the chest is directly opposite where it is in the thoracic region of my spine. The pain doesn’t spread across the area, it remains stationary. In the chest, it manifests as a tightness, similar to the tension that one can feel in an anxiety attack. In my back, the pain is very like that which I feel when I have a chest infection. In fact, this was the first Fibro pain that I experienced and was the initial symptom that led my GP to make the Fibro diagnosis.
As you can see, the pain pops up all over the place, and in several guises. The pain is debilitating to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes, it appears all over my body, making everything hard to do: sitting, standing, walking, bending. At other times, it is more manageable. However it feels, I try to carry on with my life, to a greater or lesser degree, adapting how I do things. I’m not ready to give in to the pain completely, even if I do groan when it hurts!
Recently I messaged a friend, who also has Fibromyalgia, asking her if she finds that the Fibro pain tends to be symmetrical. The example I used in the message was that if there was a pain in the left arm, did it appear in the right arm, also. I asked because I have been experiencing pain in my left arm but, in case your reaction is like hers, let me assure you that I am not having a heart attack! If the pain signified a heart attack I am certain I would have shuffled off this mortal coil several months ago.
Since the Fibro pain really started to kick in, it has tended to appear in my upper left arm most consistently. It radiates from there, sometimes going from the fingertips of my left hand, through the whole of my left arm, across both shoulders, taking a couple of detours – one up into my neck and the other down into my trunk as far as my lower chest and all the way round my back – then down the right arm to the fingertips of my right hand. Sometimes, it feels as though somenoe is continually prodding me sharply in my left arm. At other times, it is more like having shards of glass stabbing my arm. Or, it might feel like a tight band around a specific part of the upper arm. Then again, when I have a shower, it can feel as though the jets of water are piercing my skin or my skin is being scraped with shards of glass when I use the shower puff to wash my skin. However it feels, I’m pretty sure I’m not having a heart attack!